Hazell’s coaching debut spoiled as Flashes fall 48-7

Marquavius Burnett

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.| New head football coach Darrell Hazell’s career at Kent State University got off to a rocky start after the football team traveled to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to face the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday.

However, this was not the Golden Flashes first trip to the Heart of Dixie. After the April 27 tornadoes struck the state of Alabama, players and coaches traveled to Tuscaloosa to help clean-up the community. Those selfless acts of kindness went a long way with the Crimson Tide faithful. Unlike most teams that visit Bryant-Denny Stadium, the Flashes received cheers and applause when they ran out of the tunnel.

“We noticed it when we ran out and while [we were] warming up,” junior quarterback Spencer Keith said. “Like coach said, it was really classy.”

Once the game kicked off, the southern hospitality ended as the two teams became competitors with only one common goal–winning the game. Though they fought hard, the Flashes never found an offensive rhythm, losing 48-7 to the Tide.

“Well that was obviously not the way we wanted to start out,” Hazell said. “I’m frustrated that we didn’t execute offensively, but I thought the defense played well once we settled in. Our special teams didn’t play very well. We dropped a punt, had one dribble back and our kickoff returns weren’t good enough. We need to stay together as a team though. I believe we will, but we need to get a whole lot better by next weekend.”

Offensively, the Flashes gained a pedestrian 90 total yards, 99 passing and negative 9 rushing, and only managed to earn six total first downs. Defensively, the Flashes forced five turnovers, one fumble and four interceptions, including one that was returned to the three yard line which lead to their only score of the game. Despite their unbalanced performance, Hazell said there were some positive things the team could learn from their performance.

“I thought the defense and offense never gave up, but we didn’t execute very well,” Hazell said. “We had a lot of guys playing hard and we got some turnovers on defense. But we need to pay close attention to film next week and make some adjustments.”

“Definitely like coach said, we have to play faster,” senior running back Jacquise Terry said. “I felt like we were pretty physical today but we didn’t execute at all times. We had some overthrows, we had some guys drop some balls, some negative runs, but we also made some play. We’ll definitely play faster next week.”

Kent State and Alabama have deeper connections. Current Alabama head coach Nick Saban is a Kent State alumnus and a former defensive back for the Flashes. Saban said Kent’s State effort made him proud.

“You have to give Kent State a lot of credit,” Saban said. “Their guys played hard and never gave up in the game…. I was proud to be associated with Kent State University and the way they played today.”

This loss could fuel the Flashes throughout the 2011 season. The Flashes have four games that will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks throughout the season. Notable games for the Flashes include, at Kansas St., Miami (Homecoming) and at Temple.

Marquavius Burnett is the assistant sports editor of The Crimson White. Contact him by email at [email protected]